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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Flames 7

Vancouver at Calgary, April 7th, 2016
I Watched This Game
I Watched This Game

One of the few saving graces for this Canucks season has been the goaltending of Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller, who I will now forever call The Saving Graces. They've kept the Canucks in games all year long, even giving us the illusion of a competitive team at times.

Heading into the final three games of the season, both Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom had identical .918 save percentages and 2.61 goals against averages, both solidly above average among NHL goaltenders this season. They’ve done everything that could be expected of them, while facing the second-most shots against per game in the league.

These past two games, though, the constant barrage they were facing finally wore them down. Markstrom gave up six goals to the Oilers on Wednesday, then Miller did him one better, giving up seven goals to the Flames, the most the Canucks have allowed all season.

I don’t blame them in the slightest. What Canucks fan could blame them? Okay, that’s obviously a rhetorical question, because Canucks fans are people, and some people are awful, so obviously there are people out there blaming Miller for losing this game. I’m not one of them. But I do blame myself for watching this game.

  • At this point, the games feel like pre-season games. The results really don’t matter, apart from small percentage point differences in getting a top-three pick, and it’s more about searching for some semblance of positivity in the most minor of situations and extrapolating that to an extreme. Did you see that outlet pass? He’s definitely ready to be a top pairing defenceman. How about that forecheck? Definite linemate for the Sedins next season.
  • We got to say hello to a couple former Canucks in this one: Hunter Shinkaruk and Ronalds Kenins. Remember when Kenins had 10 points in his first 14 games as a Canuck? Those were the days. Still, it was nice to see Kenins called back up to the Canucks for one last kick at the can-ins.
  • Shinkaruk, for his part, was decent enough—four shots on goal and some good scoring chances with the Flames significantly outshooting the Canucks when he was on the ice—but since he didn’t score and ended up minus-1, I think that means we won the trade. That’s how that works, right?
  • This is a pretty pointless thing to complain about, but I was still ticked off when Jannik Hansen got dinged for a double minor for high-sticking when it wasn’t Hansen’s stick that clipped Joe Colborne in the face, it was T.J. Brodie’s. But because this game didn’t matter in the slightest, there was utter silence across Canucks Twitter when the Flames opened the scoring on the subsequent power play. I mean, if we’re not a fanbase that pointlessly complains about reffing, then who are we? Have we lost our identity?
  • The highlight of the game was easily Nikita Tryamkin scoring his first NHL goal, firing a wrist shot that deflected in off Shinkaruk’s stick. It was something you could genuinely be happy about and Tryamkin clearly was, pumping his fist in obvious delight. Sure, he got lucky, but he was still the happiest Russian since the Russian Police Choir.
  • Speaking of Russians, Andrey Pedan finally got a chance to play his actual position, switching to defence in the second period while Alex Biega took a turn as a forward. Lo and behold, he looked perfectly acceptable back there, despite being paired with Matt Bartkowski.
  • Whoever had the bright idea to put the Sedins on opposite sides of the ice during the power play, just stop. Stop it. Everything about it is wrong. The Sedins need to be in close proximity to each other or their wizardly power wanes. Everybody knows this.
  • The Canucks did manage to get one power play goal on their five opportunities. With Brendan Gaunce screening Joni Ortio, Bo Horvat ripped a wrist shot just under Ortio’s glove. It was his fourth goal in his last five games, just in case you were having trouble finding the one Canuck who’s still trying.
  • Emerson Etem has also been putting in the effort at the end of the season and he extended his point streak to four games with a goal, tapping in a Ben Hutton shot that deflected into the crease. Horvat picked up an assist on the goal, giving him 40 points on the season, which is divisible by 10, making it far superior to other numbers.
  • Chris Tanev has seemed a little off his game without his usual defence partner. For example, he failed to break up a 2-on-1 that allowed Deryk Engelland to score. Deryk. Engelland. I mean, there must be something horribly wrong with Tanev, right? There’s no other possible explanation.
  • Ben Hutton had two assists, bringing him up to 25 points this season. So, who had Hutton pegged as the team’s leading scorer among defencemen last summer? Liar.
  • Markus Granlund was much more noticeable tonight than in previous games, which means I was fleetingly aware he was actually on the ice at times. Improvement!
  • This is my last IWTG. This nightmarish season is nearly over. What a relief that will be. Just you wait, though. By August we'll all be begging for the Canucks season to start. It's a sickness.